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Forty-five years of experience and two decades of racing at the highest levels have culminated today in the launch of Specialized’s lightest ever bike, the Hotwalk Carbon. With a carbon frame, carbon fork, 12-inch carbon wheels, and a carbon handlebar, the Hotwalk weighs in at just 2.1 kg (4.63 lb) and has a US$999 / £999 price tag. That’s more than 4 kg lighter and US$11,500 cheaper than the recently launched Aethos, a potentially disastrous undercut of Specialized’s premier road model.
Specialized tasked the same team that made the Tarmac SL7 and the new Stumpjumper to pore over every single detail to create the “ultimate first bike”. The result is a bike designed specifically for kids with a bank balance bruising effect.
Sources within Specialized indicate that today’s two-year-olds are dreaming of lightweight FACT 9r carbon frames with Rider First engineered geometry, as well as carbon wheels with the perfect balance of grip and low rolling resistance for striding the street and dirt.
The Hotwalk also comes with carbon handlebars with a 38% smaller diameter for a better grip with tiny hands. It’s all topped off with a Body Geometry saddle that incorporates a built-in handle for bigger people to carry the bike after the first distraction.
All this tech is said to deliver a ride quality that’s unprecedented in a kids’ bike. Specialized has not released any wind tunnel data for the Hotwalk carbon, but with swooping lines, thick carbon tubing, and extremely widely spaced fork blades reminiscent of the Hope Lotus GB track bike, the new Hotwalk is certainly aero to the eye.
All joking aside, the Hotwalk Carbon could well be the stuff of kids’ cycling dreams – or at least I am certainly dreaming of one for my two-year-old daughter. The low weight and proper tyres should make the Hotwalk responsive and easy to maneuver for all those wobble moments, and having previously worked in schools and helped kids to learn to cycle without balance wheels, I know the added difficulty for a kid when they are trying to learn on a heavy bike.
Specialized says the Hotwalk Carbon is meant for kids from 18 months to four years up to 88 cm (35 in) in height, with a tested weight rating of 18.1 kg (40 lb). There are currently no safety standards for carbon strider bikes so Specialized had to develop an entirely new testing process to achieve this weight rating.
While the Hotwalk Carbon’s outrageous price – and its existence in general – may seem like some sort of cruel joke, Specialized is very serious in saying that it made this bike because kids are the next generation of riders. In fairness, this bike could give kids a taste for that freedom a bike gives us, or maybe even a taste for racing. I put a large part of my inspiration to get into cycling down to a unique and lightweight bike I got as a kid, and most likely that’s where my obsession for tech started.
“At the end of the day,” Specialized says, “we made this for them.”
That’s just as well, since they’re not the ones paying for it.